Category Archives: collaboration

Neo-Soviet Russia and her Western Henchmen

Paul Goble reports:

Western specialists being enlisted in the Kremlin’s effort to legitimate Russia’s “special path to democracy,” a role they are prepared to play not only because of “business interests and weakness before big money but also because of a profound crisis of [their] worldview,” according to Grani.ru commentator Irina Pavlova. And because of their willingness to do so, she writes, the world is watching a situation like that of 30 years ago “when in the army of Western Sovietologists were only a few who spoke about the possible collapse of the Soviet Union and almost no one who was prepared to put the question as Andrey Amalrik did in his essay ‘Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984?’”

Today, she notes, “the future participants of the world political forum” scheduled to take place in Yaroslavl in September, like the one that took place a year ago, are meeting in Berlin to discuss what will be discussed. Among those attending, Pavlova says, are Immanuel Wallerstein and Fareed Zakaria.

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EDITORIAL: Deripaska buys himself a Senator

EDITORIAL

Deripaska buys himself a Senator

A while back, we wrote about a report being released by a committee chaired by former Democratic Senator Gary Hart and Republican turncoat Senator Chuck Hagel, following their meeting in Moscow with Russian “president” Dmitri Medvedev. LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld also wrote about the report in her Russia column on Pajamas Media.  This supposedly “bipartisan” commission was in fact nothing more than a Kremlin propaganda project, and all those who participated in it must be seen either as dangerously stupid or even more dangerously treacherous.

We lean towards treachery, because we’ve learned that Putin-friendly oligarch Oleg Deripaska lurks behind the report, making it seem that the document was bought and paid for by the Moscow Kremlin.

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EDITORIAL: The New Chamberlain

EDITORIAL

The New Chamberlain

Lord Truscott

Lord Truscott

It’s somewhat difficult to imagine what sort of person could be an organizer, MP and energy minister for the British Labor Party for more than a decade and then, when finally rejected at the polls by his own constituents, accept a knighthood from the Queen and enter the House of Lords, thus becoming the very personification of all that he had heretofore been opposing.

But you don’t have to imagine it, you can just look at the photograph of Baron Peter Derek Truscott and see it all in living color.

And you can then open your virtual copy of the Times of London and regale yourself with his exploits having “risen” to the status of Peer of the Realm, and the Daily Mail‘s revolting picture of his secret Soviet past. The Times has discovered that any number of lords have been selling themselves to the highest bidder and that “Lord Truscott, one of those named in the lords for hire scandal, met the energy minister, allegedly without declaring that he was being paid by a lobbying firm that had among its clients Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom.”

And so, of course, it all comes back to Russia.

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EDITORIAL: Whither Chichivarkin, whither Russia?

EDITORIAL

Whither Chichivarkin, whither Russia?

Yevgeny Chichvarkin

Yevgeny Chichivarkin

In May 2005, Business Week magazine ran a feature on a young Russian businessman named Yevgeny Chichivarkin.  It reported that while ten years prior Chichivarkin had only a small business “selling clothing and cigarettes at the bustling Luzhniki market in western Moscow” by 2005 he was the co-owner of the third-largest cellphone retailer in Russia, with annual sales approaching $1 billion.  BW opined:  “These young mobile millionaires prove that you don’t have to be a government-made oligarch to succeed in Russia. With a growing middle class, the country offers ample opportunity for entrepreneurs to tap unfilled retail niches.”

Less than a year later, his firm was the #1 retailer and he had won Ernst & Young’s Russian Retailer of the Year Award.  Known for his eccentric clothing and a red Porsche with the license “666″ as well as being fined for using profanity in his company’s advertisements, the Moscow Times called him “no ordinary businessman.” Later in 2006, Time magazine reported: “In a corner of his Moscow office, perched beneath a painting of a businessman fondling his half-naked secretary, is an open silver attaché case containing wads of U.S. $100 bills in packs of $10,000. It’s meant as a joke, poking fun at perceptions of Russian businessmen as big-spending bandits.”

By 2007, the eccentric bloom was coming off the notorious rose.  Even though it now had nearly $5 billion in annual sales, over 5,000 branches nearly 40,000 employees, his company had slipped back down to the #3 position in the Russian market.  But Chichivarkin was still full of bluster.  He told Newsweek magazine:  “This country has never seen a company like ours. I have 37,000 employees, and I don’t want to run them the way Russian companies used to manage people. I have a simple logic—make money and teach the person next to you how to make money.”

Alas, for all his bravado the story of Mr. Chichivarkin had soon become all too familiar in the annals of Russian business.

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EDITORIAL: Collaborators Get Their Just Desserts

EDITORIAL

Collaborators Get Their Just Desserts

Once again, we find ourselves in the unusual position of standing to applaud the polices of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Two weeks ago, we cheered boisterously as the Kremlin arrested two businessmen who were collaborating with the neo-Soviet regime. Now, the Kremlin is eating yet more of its own children, this time the venal William Browder (the smirking idiot shown at above) and his Hermitage Capital brokerage firm, one of the largest foreign investors in neo-Soviet Russia. As Robert Amsterdam notes: “For many years, Browder has been one of the most enthusiastic advocates of investment in Russia, bullish and confident even while others have recoiled in the face of increased state interference. Once a well known supporter of President Vladimir Putin, he was also known for his occasional (and naturally in my opinion, misunderstood) public attacks against my client Mikhail Khodorkovsky.”

The Moscow Times reports the delightful news that not only has the Kremlin raided Browder’s firm in a manner eerily reminiscent of what it did to YUKOS, but in the course of doing so it seized and egregiously manipulated all sorts of confidential corporate information. The paper states:

Hermitage says the attack began with an inquiry by Moscow tax officials into a Cyprus-based account it managed. Last June, Interior Ministry investigators raided the Moscow offices of Hermitage and its lawyers at Firestone & Duncan, according to court filings by a unit of HSBC Holdings, the trustee and administrator of the fund. They took Hermitage’s corporate seal, tax registration and charter, according to the filings. A month later, Hermitage, once the largest foreign owner of Russian stocks, was defended by lawyers it did not hire in a lawsuit in St. Petersburg that it did not know about, the complaints said. The court ordered Hermitage to pay $367 million, a ruling that has since been reversed, documents show. “None of these events or actions could have occurred, including the falsification of new corporate bylaws and the powers of attorney, without those responsible having gained access to the original corporate documentation and corporate seals seized by the Interior Ministry,” wrote Paul Wrench, a director at HSBC’s Guernsey branch, in a complaint to the Guernsey Financial Intelligence Service dated Feb. 13.

The paper adds more thrilling news: “Kommersant said Thursday that Browder had been charged in absentia with evading more than 4 billion rubles ($169 million) in taxes.”

Go get him, Mr. Putin! These events are the most pure expression of justice we have seen come out of Russia in many a day. Just as was the case with Hitler and Stalin, certain people believe that deals can be cut with madman and great personal profit derived therefrom, only to find out later — as Chamberlain most famously did — that they are only being crassly manipulated by the Serpent.

Mr. Browder richly deserves to spend some time cooling his heels in a Siberian prison cell. Maybe then, he might think differently about his attacks on Khodorkovsky and his defense of the malignant little troll who prowls the Kremlin’s parapets by night spitting on the last vestiges of Russia’s democracy. With any luck, the Kremlin will jail any foreigners even vaguely associated with Hermitage who are foolish enough to remain in Russia, and seize all the company’s assets in the country, just as it did with YUKOS.

And we fervently hope that the same fate will befall any other person or business entity which is stupid or evil enough to invest money in Russia, seeking to profit from dictatorship at the expense of the Russian people and international security. It seems such events are the only ones that will ever make these treacherous collaborators understand the harm they are doing. We wish Mr. Putin every success in his efforts to teach them this lesson.